Born JANUARY 3, 1935
Jesus told a wealthy, young man of His day that to gain eternal life he should sell his possessions and divide the money among the poor (Matthew 19:21). That young man refused to give up his temporary riches even if it meant not gaining God’s eternal kingdom. He left that conversation sorrowful (verse 22). In the centuries since, some have willingly surrendered their wealth to God’s service. One such person– a self-made millionaire from Alabama named Millard Fuller.
From childhood, Millard knew how to turn things around him into cash. Later, in law school, he and fellow classmate, Morris Dees, engaged in some lucrative business ventures. After graduation, they started a marketing firm. At age 29, Millard became a millionaire. But life wasn’t everything he’d dreamed. His drive to create wealth failed to bring total happiness to his family.
His wife, Linda, felt left out. She took their two children to New York. That shock opened Millard’s eyes. To save their marriage, he followed her. He also renewed his faith. In New York he told Linda a radical idea he had– for them to give away their wealth. She agreed.
They returned to Georgia where they joined a Christian community known as Koinonia Farm. There they grew in their faith and their desire to express it. In 1973, the Fuller family relocated to Zaire, Africa to build homes. Three years later they returned to America and began Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat’s mission: provide affordable homes for the needy via the “economics of Jesus.” They don’t give homes away, nor do they sell them for profit. Each person a house is built for is a “partner.” During the building process, a partner is expected,to contribute a set number of hours of sweat equity. When finished, the partner makes a down payment and monthly payments thereafter. Following God’s command in Exodus 22:25, Habitat for Humanity refuses to charge interest.
The organization shares Jesus’ love for the needy by involving the commu-nity. They rely on financial donations (including corporate sponsorship), work with locally donated material and a voluntary labor force.
Those attending the organizational meeting for Habitat for Humanity in 1976 set a goal to build one million homes for those who needed them. That mission was accomplished in 2005. That same year, Millard resigned from Habitat over policy issues. He then began the Fuller Center for Housing. He remained at the helm until his death in 2009. Millard Fuller, the onetime millionaire, shined brightly for Jesus by investing the last 36 years of his life making sure others had decent, affordable housing.
LET ME KNOW: How has Millard’s story informed, encouraged, or otherwise helped you? I welcome your comments.
- Fuller, Millard. Theology of the Hammer. Smyth & Helwys, 1994.
Learn more about Millard Fuller and the ministry he inspired from these and other additional resources—
- Books- Fuller, Millard. Beyond the American Dream. Smyth & Helwys, 2010.
- Fuller, Millard. More than Houses. Thomas Nelson, 1999.
- Youngs, Bettie B. The House that Love Built. Hampton Roads, 2007.
YouTube Videos- Search for Millard Fuller and Habitat for Humanity.
—–Images from SmugMug—–